If you’ve eaten kiwi, you have Frieda Rapoport Caplan to thank.
In the early 1960s, she began a business distributing unusual fruit. One example was Chinese gooseberry, which was renamed as kiwifruit (soon shortened to kiwi). Mrs. Caplan was instrumental in promoting the fruit, which gradually took hold in the US.
At the time, she said later, “There wasn’t so much interest in fresh fruits and vegetables, and we didn’t have innovative produce departments. The mind-set of produce merchandisers was potatoes, onions, grapefruit and apples. It was a matter of finding people who were innovative and progressive and getting them together with people who had something to offer.”
She built her success as a woman in a largely male business. By 2003, her company had annual sales of $50 million. Mrs. Caplan died January 18 at the age of ninety-six.
The urgency and opportunity of innovation
Reading the Times profile reinforced for me the urgency and opportunity of innovation. Farmers were growing produce that customers would want if only someone could overcome the inertia of traditional companies. It took an outsider to see possibilities that changed the industry.
Frieda Caplan’s story is also a model for Christians who want to impact their culture for Christ.
The mantra is worth repeating: we must always be willing to change our methods to communicate our unchanging message.
Jesus fed hungry bodies to feed hungry souls. He used momentary circumstances to teach eternal truth (cf. Matthew 6:26, where he pointed to the “birds of the air” as illustrating God’s provision for us all).
Paul quoted Scripture in synagogues (Acts 13:17–22) and Greek philosophers with Greek philosophers (Acts 17:28). His strategy should be ours: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Like Paul, you have been given influence by your Lord. Like Jesus’ first disciples, you are called to be his witness in your Jerusalem and extending to “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
How would you complete the sentence, “My ministry is ______________”?
What strategy will you follow to fulfill your kingdom assignment today?